Food Jags: What are They and How do you Prevent Them?
What does it mean when your child won’t eat unless his food is prepared in the exact same way each time? It means your child may be experiencing a food jag. Here’s help.
What is a food jag? Children with feeding difficulties tend to eat the same foods every day, even at every meal. Typically they require that the foods be prepared in the same way each time. For example, your child may only eat a hot dog for lunch every day. S/he will only eat the hot dog if it is a specific brand, boiled on the stove, and put on the plate with the ketchup (specific brand) not touching it. This example demonstrates a “food jag.”
So what is the big deal if my child eats the same thing every day for lunch? The biggest problem with food jags is that eventually your child will become bored or burned out on his/her preferred foods. Once a child with feeding difficulties neglects to eat a preferred food, it is usually lost from his/her food repertoire for good. The practice of eliminating foods from his/her diet may then continue until there are only a handful of foods left to him/her.
How can you prevent a food jag from beginning in the first place?
In the event that your child has a limited amount of foods in their repertoire, it is very important when adding variations that you go very slowly. The difference to your child’s preferred food should be barely noticeable at first. As your child is better able to accept differences to his/her food the changes can become more noticeable. Every child is unique in how small the change must be in order to prevent a meltdown and refusal to eat the food.
Preventing food jags is a long careful process, but it is extremely important in preventing the loss of foods from your child’s diet. Prevention is not always possible for some children. If you have a child who seems to jag on food, but you are not able to vary the food in any way and his/her diet continues to get smaller, it may be time to seek professional assistance.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Autism specialist Erin Roon, of the Horizons Developmental Remediation Center, provides practical information and advice for families living with autism and other developmental disabilities. If you are interested in finding out more about food jags, or having an assessment to determine the need for a treatment program, please visit our website at ==> www.HorizonsDRC.com